Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Rozalia Project Intern Blog: Immersed in the Blue Ocean

Today's Rozalia Project intern blog is from Julia Siar from Provincetown, MA. Currently, Julia is studying pre-veterinary at U. Mass Amherst and wants to work with marine mammals.

I was seven when I started sailing. I don’t think I was ever as terrified as that first time I went; it was a beautiful day in the beginning of July and my brother was to take me on my first sail ever. This would be comforting for most people, to have their brother with them, but I was even more terrified because my brother loved to scare the living day lights out of me. He was successful for the most part until our sunfish capsized. As I slipped off the side of the boat I was suddenly elated. That beautiful moment when you hit the water was like a euphoric trip for me. Then every day from then I would purposefully try and capsize. I soon realized that it wasn’t the actual capsizing that I enjoyed but it was being immersed in the blue ocean. So, I went from capsizing every second I could, to just jumping off the boat in water where you can’t touch and just swimming. To then catching all the jellyfish that I could possibly put in the cockpit of my boat. No matter what my mood it made me feel a million times better. I sailed at the West End Racing Club for the majority of my life and throughout every year the water became a closer and closer of an ally to me. I never feel more at home than the moments I can be connected to the ocean. The bay is my friend, as a good friend I am going to go on this journey so that I can protect something that has been so dear to me my entire life. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rozalia Project Intern Blog: The ocean is not just a playmate, nor a source of economic value; she is a partner

Next up in our Rozalia Project intern blog series is Inga Aprans from Gloucester, MA. Inga graduated from Salem State where she received a B.S. in Biology with an Environmental concentration and minor in Chemistry. As the daughter of a lobsterman, she has a unique perspective on the sea.

“If you spend too much time in the water, you’ll turn into a fish”, my father said to me as I horrifically looked at my legs. I was about nine years old and hadn’t yet discovered the benefits of skin moisturizer. Continuous swimming in the ocean coupled with the strong rays of the summer sun had left my skin dry and salty; flaky patches resembling scales had begun to pop up over my sun kissed legs. I was definitely turning into a fish. 

I comforted myself by thinking that we were probably all turning into fish, not just me. My three older brothers spent just as much time in the water. Growing up on the coast in Massachusetts, our summers were idyllically spent sailing, swimming and snorkeling . The ocean was our playground. 

As the years passed, one by one my brothers forfeited their weekend ocean play for work. My father is a lobster fisherman, and  my brothers’ coming of age ceremony consisted of 3 am wake up calls and rolling seas. Slowly, this small change in family life routine extended to a change in my perception of the ocean. I began to make sense of the magnitude of my father’s frustration at the dinner table when his catch was low that day, when draggers ran over his gear, or when due to weather, he didn’t get out at all. The ocean and her resources provided for us. When these issues occurred, they directly affected our livelihood. This solipsistic starting point was what initially propelled me into pursuing a career in fisheries and marine conservation. I wanted to protect what was mine; a healthy ocean meant healthy lobsters meant food on our table and the means to uphold our loving household and lifestyle. 
Once I was old enough to work alongside my father on the boat, I marveled at his familiarity, knowledge, and respect for the ocean. His motions were fluid and strong, and always was he paying attention to the water and adjusting to its will. By returning lobsters that were too big or too small, or those that had spawned or were to spawn, he worked to ensure there would be lobsters for future days and future generations. Through watching him I discovered that

the ocean was not just a playmate, nor was she just a source of economic value; she was a partner.

However, while I attended college the Northeast ground-fishery continued to collapse and I realized that while things seemed conservationally sound within my family, this partnership was not universally honored. As I watched members of my community fight against government figures and question the validity of science, I became determined to find a way to unite all walks of life who hold the ocean close to their heart. Everyone involved ultimately has the same goal: to keep the marine ecosystem healthy. To do that, our partnership must be maintained and improved. 

To me, Rozalia Project epitomizes the unification that I strive for. The combination of scientific research, education, and hands-on work all on a sailboat cultivates the type of community that I hope for.

The concept of “protecting what you love” rings so true to me. I grew up spectacularly, I was loved, well cared for and had the most beautiful playground. The nucleus of all of those experiences, and all those that have come after, is the marine environment. In the career choices I have made, I have tried to reflect my love for this environment and my desire to protect it. Being a part of Rozalia is the next step in my journey, and I couldn’t be more excited. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Rozalia Project Intern Blog: Is that dawn? No, it's Los Angeles

It is almost time to board American Promise for our fourth season of cleanup, research and education and we have a spectacular group of interns from all over the country and from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

This post kicks off our series of intern blog posts. It is an opportunity to, not just show off our excellent interns, but also share with you their personal stories of what motivates them to get dirty, sandy, salty and muddy to protect our ocean.

The first is from Emma Hayward who currently attends the Eugene Lang College at the New School for Liberal Arts in NYC and comes from Cape Cod...

During a forty day ocean crossing, you realize how many things you take for granted during your life on land.  Cooking a meal on a flat, stationary stove, for instance, is something people never think twice about while engaging in a terrestrial lifestyle.  Realizing how safe and simple my life on land truly was did not surprise me.  What did surprise me, is what I came to take for granted about the ocean.
Earlier that day, my father had plotting our position on our chart.  We knew we were still a few days off of San Diego, perhaps about a hundred miles out.  He took the first watch that evening, and woke me for mine at eleven.  I was still opening my eyes as I climbed up the companion-way and clipped in my harness.  My father was sitting on deck, eyes straight ahead.

“Do you see that, Emma?” he asked, not taking his eyes off whatever he was looking at.  Up ahead, very far off, was a significant glow on the horizon.  It was light unlike any I had ever seen.  Completely mystified I asked, “is it dawn?”

“No. It’s Los Angeles.” 

This was the first time it hit me that our trip was going to end soon.  For thirty plus days we had enjoyed the ocean largely to ourselves, yet here was a colossal society, just waiting for us at the end.  I was angry.  Who did this city this it was?  Ruining my last few nights of star-gazing with its filthy light pollution.  I suppose beautiful, starry skies were something I had come to take for granted.

Joining Rozalia Project became important to me that night on watch.  I sat there for hours, sailing towards the blaring L.A. lights, wishing I could turn our boat around and sail right back out to sea.  I knew then, that if only people were truly aware of the majesty of the ocean, they would change their ways and do what they could to help it.  By combining research, clean-up, and education, Rozalia Project does its part to help people better understand the environmental issues in our oceans.  I feel very honored to get to work towards this goal with Rozalia Project.